Monday, 25 November 2013

New life? New plans.

As I hinted in my last blog post I have made some rather dramatic new decisions.
I have turned down my singing contracts for next year.

Wow, I have actually written it down, it is actually happening.

So what has prompted this decision? Well I don't need to tell you all that I have been struggling a lot with the constant going away, I moved my life here from London but kept my working life based in London which is a very hard, nigh on impossible thing to do (unless you have an income to afford such life-style). I felt that the time has come to put that right and let go of 'the South' altogether. Add to that the almost impossible cuts the arts are getting in the UK at the moment. We hear much about establishments losing arts funding, but what is rarely mentioned is the knock on effect these slashed figures has on people like me, let me tell you my income this year was only two thirds what it has been before and the proposal was to cut it in half again.

Sometimes it just isn't worth it.

Now, for those of you who are saying a horrified 'no don't give up singing' let me assure you that I will never give that up entirely, it is what I am, what I do, and I'm good at it, when all said and done. Let's just say I am diversifying.

Here are some of my plans.

I am writing to all the local choral societies. Plenty of choral societies have professional singers doing the solos in their concerts and it will keep me singing, but it will not require long, long rehearsal periods, in fact most of these just rehearse on the day and so can easily fit in with other things.

I have, in the past, been a competition adjudicator for music festivals, and on a word of mouth basis have yet again been booked for 2 more in 2014. I have the application forms to apply officially for a position as an official adjudicator. It will never give me a full income but there are many music festivals and once you on the list more will come my way and it is a great supplement for your income.

I have set up a recital duo with a friend of mine, another baritone. He will sing and I will play the piano. We have no bookings yet and we need to get our details to anywhere we can think of that puts on classical recitals. So if anyone knows of anywhere, let me know!!! Of course I am available for recitals, with me singing too.

Thirdly I am setting myself up as a singing teacher and piano teacher. I am very highly qualified to do this and have taught off and on for years (I had my first piano students when I was 15!)

So I have been working on my CV, which I will send to some sixth form colleges and universities that offer music lessons. I will also be teaching from  home and have set up a new website which you can check out should you be interested :-)) on http://danielhowardmusicteacher.yolasite.com

I am also having some flyers printed that I will send to local choral societies and Churches advertising as a singing teacher. There are lots of people who sing in amateur choirs and some may want singing lessons. When all said and done I am good at this stuff and have rather hidden my light under a bushel and I only need a few pupils to keep my head above water.

It is a daunting prospect and after Thursday I will officially be self-employed with an empty diary and we all know what that means - no income. But I have been preparing for this (some may say that frugal living has been preparing me for this for years) and I can probably survive (on little) until May if nothing comes my way from all these plans.

So wish me luck. I have to go to London for the last time at the end of this week, for my final performance there.

47 comments:

  1. I did wonder when I read your post last week if giving up the London scene was the way you were going. I can only wish you all the best in your diversified career. With your singing experience you will make an excellent teacher.

    Had I been younger I would have been queueing at your door. at 70 I have given up singing in choirs etc. I always said once my voice began to 'tremble' I would give up.

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  2. Wow, what a big step. Good on you for making the clean break and a fresh start. As I started reading this I was saying to myself 'why doesnt he offer singing lessons' as there are plenty of people out there (like me for example) who would like to gain a bit more confidence etc. Im gutted you're on the wrong side of the Pennines for me (Im in Sheffield), but wish you every sucess with your new venture. Im sure you will do well.

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  3. Sheffield is not too far from you ( remember I lived there)
    On a personal note
    Well done that man........

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  4. could you also do public speaking about your experiences? my mum's inner wheel group in Liverpool are often looking for someone to give an interesting presentation.

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  5. Very best wishes for your new life. I am sure that you will make it work for you.

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  6. Love your website. Best wishes for your new business. I really like your plans and know you will be successful.
    I see you have done this work before, but keep detailed records. Get a good accountant; this can make a world of difference to a sole trader. I find the hardest part is chasing the money from certain clients. Your business will be sufficiently diverse to keep you very busy. Enjoy the new lifestyle.

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  7. If you never try... Well you know the rest. Glad you have the drive and confidence to give your new ideas a chance to fly. Think you need a change, life work balance and all that. Good luck fella

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  8. hi there

    we are both self employed contractors. hard in the beginning, but it pays off in the end.

    Could I make a suggestion of some where else to advertise? Could be scary, but what about at nurseries and play groups put a card up, also ballet studios. The parents read them, when going in and out, but people are very into music lessons for their children. If there is a grammar school near by that is also worth asking if you can be added to the school news letter, as some of them have slightly more money due to parents donations etc they let a dance troop rehearse in the gym of the one my nephew goes to, for free.

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    1. Dan, you have one of the best Grammar schools near you, Bacup and Rawtenstall. Awesome place and so many good contacts for you. There is also the Rossendale Male voice Choir, famous in it's own right. Plus, network with Cafe yes -lots of musicians tap in there too. Churches, Sean Ruane lives locally - you are so talented you deserve to so well. and people in Rossendale love to adopt others who do well,we are proud of you already

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  9. I wish you every success with your new career. You might want to try some upmarket eateries around your locality and see if they could use some live music on Friday or Saturday night. If you can get yourself on the WI speaker circuit, that can be very useful. Hotels which provide conference facilities might also be able to use you for welcome events or pre-dinner music. I know someone in a drumming group who gets good money for corporate team building days all over the country- maybe you could offer something a bit different in those areas. You have lots of skills so I'm sure you're be able to think outside as well as inside the box.

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    1. Nino's! Rawtenstall and Cliviger

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  10. I like the idea of the diversity you have in your plan, and then you can see what works best. It did seem as though you were away from your home for a lot of the year. All the best for your new plans

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  11. Good gracious! Well done for having the courage to do what you want - life is a little short to go on doing what you don't! You'll be fine, I'm sure.

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  12. Good for you. I'd be terrified but I suspect the positives will far outweigh the negatives for you.
    I often think that amateur singers giving professional singers advice is a bit like teaching grandma to suck eggs but since you asked, and since I love to tell people what to do, em, I mean offer helpful suggestions: With regard to local choirs and choral societies it's the conductors you need to be in touch with. It has been my experience at least that the choir doesn't even get the hint of a look-in when it comes to choosing soloists so direct contact with the conductor rather than with the choir will probably be more helpful. Each conductor has their contacts and that's who turns up. Would you be able to stand playing as an accompanist for a choir? Many conductors in smaller choirs play themselves during rehearsals but need someone for concerts, especially around christmas time.
    I suppose networking is going to be a hugely important part of this next stage in your adventure. If you're not already on linkedin it might not be a bad idea to get yourself a profile there, or on any other similar websites if there are some specifically for musicians. I'm inclined to suggest that you allocate a certain amount of time to 'work' at that rather than just allowing it to suck up every spare minute though.
    As for the recital duo, could you check out event planners and that kind of thing in your area? The kind who organise corporate events and that kind of thing.
    And I think offering singing lessons to people singing in choirs is a great idea. I don't know if England is kind of like Ireland in that respect so that people just do choir for a bit of fun and don't think they're really 'good' enough to justify lessons. I was very surprised to find out how many people in Germany do voice lessons - there's far more of a mentality of "this is my hobby and I'm going to be good at it". I've promised myself since I was a teenager that I was going to get proper singing lessons one day and next year when I'm finally debt free I'm going to do it. Who knows though. If someone had offered me the opportunity years ago maybe I would have taken it sooner - I'd say there are lots of people who might go for it if it's presented to them that wouldn't really ever go searching for it for fear of getting above themselves, if you know what I mean. I hope it all works out the way you're hoping and with so many different strings to your bow, I think you're going to do really well and have a great time doing it.

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  13. Best wishes for success from an old reader, new commenter.
    You might be amused to know that I took piano lessons in Canada in the 1950's, which cost approximately £2.93 an hour paid for with my babysitting money of 15pence/hour. This was in the historical days when a 3 - bed roomed house rented for £30 monthly. :-)

    Ann in Canada

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  14. Well done! best thing I ever did was becoming self employed :)

    Advertise, advertise, advertise!

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  15. It must have felt good to make and announce your decision! I know it will create the home-based life you are looking for and there will be all sorts of people lined up for your services.

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  16. Wishing you the best of luck!

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  17. How exciting! Hey, you never want to look back and wonder 'what if'. You are prepared, physically and emotionally, I say go for it!! You'll be great I just know it!

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  18. Go for it !
    You have nothing to worry about - you will make it - you have confidence and experience and a knowledge of living frually -
    the two saddest words in the English Language are 'what if .........'
    Good luck.

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  19. So glad you have made this decision, shows you really do want your new life up North! I'm with everyone one else on this but just one word of warning about teaching from home - be careful. A good friend of mine lost a photography job because the teacher left the room for a few seconds and the child accused them of 'touching'.

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  20. Good for you, exciting times ahead. I wish you lots of luck and happiness.

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  21. Ooooh I'm so excited for you. A whole new beginning. If you add public speaking to your mix get on the W I list, I have done hundreds of these over the years. They can't afford to pay much, maybe £30 - £40 per one hour talk which could go to 2+ hours by the time you have had tea and biscuits and questions, it's rude to rush off afterwards. You need to factor in travel costs, ask for those in addition to your fee. These gigs could lead to husbands of members asking you to do after dinner speaking for their Rotary/Round Table/Probus meetings. You get fed and can up your fees as they have more money put aside for this. Once you get your name out there your phone number will be passed around. Always carry small cards to give to people you meet.

    If I lived nearer I might treat myself to singing lessons. Maybe you could do a one day basics workshop for those who can't come on a regular basis. Do a deal with a local cheap B & B, Youth Hostel perhaps. Maybe four or five people, would they fit into your house?

    Good luck with whatever you do.

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  22. Wow - Good luck! Very brave of you but as others have said you never know unless you try. I wish you all the best with this. :-)

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  23. Wishing you the best of luck. I became self-employed 4 years ago on moving to Shetland ( I don't drive and there was no call for an environmental lab analyst locally). It means that things can be hard at times but the freedom is very rewarding and the frugal/lower impact lifestyle, for me really is trying to live up to my ethics so is immensely important mentally as well as helping on the saving cash front.

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  24. Best of luck. I quit my job in march and have gone to uni. Bold brave moves are good for the soul !

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  25. Good luck with your new career plan. I hope it all goes brilliantly for you.

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  26. Wishing you all the best of luck in your new adventures! It's a big step, but you've got the shoes to do it. :-D

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  27. Wishing you every success in your career diversification. You will be able to enjoy your new life more

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  28. So proud you have the courage to go forward with these plans. There's always a way. So good luck and all happy days....this will be like a new freedom!

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  29. Don't know who you'd contact but Buxton Festival has a 'fringe'.
    Perhaps worth a try for the new duo?

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  30. Good Luck Dan with whatever you doX

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  31. Wonderful plans! And the best part is that you will be your own boss, and sure it may be a bit tight, but how amazing! I have a friend who did this in his own life, and he is doing great and is much much happier. So kudos and best wishes!

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  32. fabulous ideas emerging here! I wish you all the best for your new way of making a living. How exciting for you!!

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  33. To turn down your singing contracts must have been difficult.But you seem to be well-organized and I am sure you will do well. I certainly wish you the best of luck.

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  34. Bravo to following your heart...

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  35. We have been on a major debt clearing mission the last three years and are now debt free. The only thing we didn't cut back on was my son's private music lessons. He has two per week, violin and piano and loves it. I took extra work just to pay for his lessons while we were clearing debt. Anyway, we pay £15 per half hour lesson. Today he is sitting his grade 7 violin and he's still only 15. There is definitely an income to be made from private music lessons. Have you thought of kids' music clubs, holiday music workshops for adults and or kids with a concert at the end of it (parents will buy tickets), playing piano for dance schools, playing piano accompaniment for music exams, providing aural lessons for music exams. Just some ideas of earning money locally. My son hopes to teach music while studying. Good luck - we left the south behind years ago, no home or job to go to, just bought a second hand car, sold up and left to come home to Scotland. Been a bit of a struggle at times but we got there in the end.

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  36. You are just about 10 miles from my hometown. My brother and family had a similar journey in the last couple of years. They moved from Croydon to Colne, Lancs. The riots there were the final straw for them.
    The Municiple Hall in Colne is a great venue and may be a great spot for your duet show.

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  37. Good luck for all your future plans. I both envy you and respect you for the choices that you are making...

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  38. Good to read a men with the courage of his convictions. Hope it works out, sure you'll mange OK.

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  39. Good luck for the career re-alignment. Another idea, do you conduct? If so, it might be worth approaching any local community orchestras to see if they are looking for anyone to conduct at a sectional rehearsal, workshop etc.

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  40. I was also going to suggest the WI. Have you thought of Nursing homes residential homes for the elderly. Not very exciting, but I am matron in nursing home in Lytham, we pay our "entertainers" about £40 hr. There's also St Anne's music festival, usually in July, Lytham Proms in August. Good luck with whatever you do.

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  41. Good for you . As you said you will always sing, but if not being in London makes you happy then that is a good thing. Good luck x

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  42. Good for you . As you said you will always sing, but if not being in London makes you happy then that is a good thing. Good luck x

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